Jim McKelvey

James Morgan McKelvey Jr. (born 1965) is an American billionaire businessman and philanthropist who is the co-founder of Square, Inc., a financial payments company. McKelvey was appointed as an Independent Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in January 2017.[2] As of September 2020, McKelvey is ranked by Forbes as the 378th richest person in America.[1]

Jim McKelvey
Jim Studio Headshow.jpeg
Born (1965-10-19) October 19, 1965 (age 55)
Alma materWashington University in St. Louis
OccupationDirector of Square, Inc.

Early lifeEdit

James Morgan McKelvey Jr. was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and is an alumnus of Ladue Horton Watkins High School.[3] He wrote and published a Handbook on UCSD Pascal and Apple Pascal in 1986.[4] After graduation from Washington University in St. Louis, McKelvey worked as a contractor for IBM in Los Angeles and in St. Louis.[5] At the same time, he had jobs as a glassblowing instructor and founded Disconcepts, a CD cabinet manufacturing company.[5]


Third Degree Glass FactoryEdit

In 2000, after giving a glassblowing demonstration at WUSTL, McKelvey met Doug Auer. In 2002 they founded Third Degree Glass Factory in St. Louis, a glass art education center and studio which also provides space for private events.[6][7] He talks about this extensively in the Shaping Business Minds Through Art podcast.[8]

Square, Inc.Edit

In 2009, McKelvey co-founded Square with Jack Dorsey.[9][10][11] Professor Robert Morley designed the hardware used by Square in 2009, while McKelvey and Jack Dorsey later created a separate entity leaving Morley out of this entity's ownership. McKelvey then served as Square's chairman until 2010.[12] Today, McKelvey sits on the Board of Directors at Square. Jim led Square to take over the St. Louis Post Dispatch building in downtown St. Louis as a new Square headquarters. The new office opened on July 19, 2021.[13]

Cultivation CapitalEdit

In 2012, McKelvey teamed with other St. Louis-based serial entrepreneurs to help found Cultivation Capital. The venture capital firm manages multiple early-stage venture capital funds in software, life sciences, and agtech.[14]

The Federal ReserveEdit

In 2017, McKelvey was appointed as an Independent Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.[15]

NoW Innovation DistrictEdit

Since 2019, McKelvey and business partner Jim Berglund, as StarLake Holdings have been building the NoW Innovation District in downtown St. Louis. As part of that project, StarLake purchased the St. Louis Post Dispatch building and built it out in approximately a $70 million project which enabled it to receive $12 million in tax increment financing.[16][17][18]

On July 19, 2021 Square Inc moved its 850 local employees into its new office in downtown St. Louis at 900 North Tucker Blvd. The company moved from its previous location in the Cortex Innovation District and signed a 15 year lease on the StarLake Holdings owned building. 50,000 square feet of the building are available to be occupied by other tenants. Mauran, Russell designed the building as well as the St. Louis Federal Reserve and the St. Louis Southwestern Bell building in the 1920s. The modern renovation of the building was completed by Tarlton Corporation, Trivers architecture firm and McClure Engineering. Square's space was designed by CannonDesign. [19][20]

Non-profit WorkEdit


In September 2013, McKelvey co-founded LaunchCode, a non-profit organization that aims to grow new talent and create pathways to on-the-job training and employment.[21] LaunchCode partners with companies to set up paid apprenticeships in technology for talented people who lack the traditional credentials to land a quality, high-paying job.[22] In 2014, LaunchCode was named "The Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis" by the St. Louis Riverfront Times.[23] In February 2019, LaunchCode received a $300,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to support education programming.[24]


In 2016, McKelvey donated $15 million to the Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science to build a new computer science and engineering building named after his father.[25] In 2019, Washington University's engineering school was renamed the McKelvey School of Engineering.[26][27]


  • McKelvey, Jim (2020). The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. Penguin Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-593-08674-2.[28][29]
  • McKelvey, James (2006). The Art Of Fire: Beginning Glassblowing. Third Degree Glass Factory. ISBN 0978683102.[30]


  1. ^ a b "Forbes profile: Jim McKelvey". Forbes. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  2. ^ "St. Louis Fed Announces Changes to Board of Directors". stlouisfed.org. December 12, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  3. ^ Dielman, Susan (June 24, 2012). ""Distinguished Ladue Alumni Chosen for 2012 Awards Presentation"". Patch.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  4. ^ McKelvey, Jim (1986). The Debugger's Handbook=UCSD and Apple Pascal. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 978-0-534-06432-7.
  5. ^ a b Kerth, Susan (May 30, 2004). "Entrepreneur-artist Jim McKelvey bankrolls his glass studio with his business savvy". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  6. ^ Mannino, Fran. "Third Degree Glass Factory Celebrates 9 Years". Times Newspapers. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  7. ^ Cudnik, Christian. "Glass blowing goes public at Third Degree". news.stlpublicradio.org. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  8. ^ #15 Jim McKelvey. Audacity in Entrepreneurship and Art. - Shaping Business Minds Through Art - The Artian Podcast, retrieved February 26, 2021
  9. ^ Woytus, Amanda (October 18, 2018). "Square's Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey announce new credit card technology, plan to hire for 300 jobs in St. Louis". www.stlmag.com. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  10. ^ Calhoun, Lisa. ""Why Square's Co-Founder Says Be Wary of Advice From Successful People"". inc.com. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  11. ^ Meyerowitz, Robert. "Jim McKelvey Has Altered the Way Money Changes Hands. Now What?". www.stlmag.com. stlmag.com.
  12. ^ Pontin, Jason. "The New Money". Technology Review. MIT.
  13. ^ Kukuljan, Steph (July 19, 2021). "The New Money". St. Louis Post Dispatch. St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  14. ^ Cultivation Capital plants $100 million St. Louis Business Journal, June 28, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  15. ^ Bhardwaj, Prachi. "How these 23 entrepreneurs became the lesser known co-founders of the biggest tech companies in the world". Business Insider. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  16. ^ Wayne Pratt (January 2, 2020). "New Year, New Innovation District For Downtown St. Louis". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  17. ^ Steph Kukuljan (July 31, 2019). "'There's a hunger for it': Why McKelvey's StarLake wants to reshape downtown beyond just Square". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  18. ^ "NOW Innovation District". UrbanSTL. May 12, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  19. ^ Monica Ryan (July 20, 2021). "Square Inc. moves offices to former Post-Dispatch building". Fox 2 now. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  20. ^ "We're so happy. Square bucks trend, opens office in downtown St. Louis". St. Louis Post Dispatch. July 19, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  21. ^ Lloyd, Tim. "Square founder hopes to turn St. Louis into the Silicon Prairie". Marketplace. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  22. ^ "About - So What is LaunchCode?". LaunchCode. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  23. ^ "Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis St. Louis 2014 - LaunchCode". Riverfront Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  24. ^ Collins, Leslie (February 21, 2019). "Kauffman Foundation doubles down on LaunchCode's KC program". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  25. ^ Ebsworth-Goold, Erika (October 28, 2016). ""New engineering building to be named for school's former dean"". The Source. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  26. ^ "WashU announces donation from Square co-founder to grow engineering school". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  27. ^ Barker, Jacob. "Wash U renaming engineering school after Square co-founder Jim McKelvey". stltoday.com. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  28. ^ Fenske, Sarah (March 27, 2020). "Square's Jim McKelvey Explains How To Build A Business, 'One Crazy Idea At A Time'". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  29. ^ Woytus, Amanda (March 9, 2020). "Square co-founder Jim McKelvey details how he changed the payment game and beat Amazon in a new book". St. Louis Magazine. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  30. ^ "Book Review - The Art of Fire - Beginnning Glassblowing". Glassblowing.info. June 16, 2009. Retrieved July 16, 2021.

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